Policy Works blog | Commercial lines bliss

Codify your commercial knowledge with this one critical thing

Written by Steve Pieroway | Sep 1, 2015 2:12:47 PM

Think back to the whisper game you probably played as a kid. You know the game: a group of you would sit in a circle and one person would start by whispering a sentence in the person’s ear next to them. Then one-by-one, each person would whisper the sentence they heard to the person next to them.

The most common result? The sentence that made it back to the person who started the game was nothing like original one.

Now think about the typical broker-driven process to generate and receive a commercial quote:

  1. Insured talks to a producer.
  2. Producer relays information to account manager or marketer.
  3. Account manager relays information to one or more underwriters.
  4. Underwriters give a quote back to the account manager.
  5. Account manager prepares a proposal for the producer.
  6. Producer gives the proposal to the insured.
That’s six times that the same information is shared in the round-trip. Think about that: six times for information to be distorted. And the smallest of changes or misrepresentations can have the largest of impacts.

Insurance, at its heart, relies on the successful (effective, precise, accurate) representation and transmission of knowledge. But knowledge is not tangible – it’s trapped in people’s heads. Herein lies the challenge.

Yes, it can be shared verbally, but then you’re relying on recall to ensure each piece of information is transferred correctly. And based on the whisper game, that’s not reliable.

The challenge is finding a way to codify knowledge so that it can be accurately and reliably represented at each point of transfer. If it’s not reliable to share knowledge verbally, then we turn to the written word.

Turning knowledge to data

To codify knowledge - that combination of experience and education used to assess any given risk - we need to first think of it as data. Data are all the facts that construct and help build information. Each individual fact is called a datum.

A commercial insurance submission, for example, is comprised of a number of specialized and specific datum. Type of wall construction. Fire protection. Electrical. The list goes on.

(Click here to see a sample Policy Works submission with standardized data).

The benefit of using a singular language that is accepted by all parties is that it creates consistency at every interaction. It removes the need to interpret information at any step of the process. 

Speaking the same language

The key to accurately and reliably transferring knowledge is to create a codified set of data that is standardized across the entire organization.

Think drop-down lists that you see on surveys that force the respondent to choose from the available options.

This is what you need to do inside your brokerage if you truly want to create accurate and reliable insurance documents. But where do you start?

Here are 5 steps to get you going:

  1. Think small. Identify your top 3 lines of business to start (you can always work on other lines later).
  2. Review inforce policies or apps from the insurers you work with and make a list of the most common questions asked. 
  3. Work with your experienced commercial lines staff to generate potential responses for each question.
  4. Build submission and proposal templates in Word or Excel using the codified questions and responses you created.
  5. Make these documents available for all commercial staff to use.

If you don't have the time or resources to go through this process (most brokers don't), check out commercial management systems like Policy Works or comXP. These systems have done the heavy lifting of creating data sets and integrating them into a system to be used in standardized documents.

The bottom-line is that standardized, codified data helps to ensure accuracy and efficiency through out the life of your policies.